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Selinger and Katz. What are they hiding?

Unelected Premier Greg Selinger and promise-breaking Mayor Sam Katz have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent legitimate scrutiny of their backroom deal for a new stadium.

Their efforts go far beyond the sleazy actions of sleazy politicians, and raise intimations of criminal acts by criminal politicians.

Selinger and Katz have known for more than two months that a new stadium will cost at least $190 million.
They had to have known. We knew.

We wrote about it in a story cleverly headlined:

Saturday, October 09, 2010
The tenders are in. Is the bill for new stadium $190 million?

Does a blog know more than the Premier and the Mayor?

Selinger and Katz knew in October at the latest that the stadium would cost way more than the $115 million they told the public it would. But for the next two months they pretended to be surprised as the cost estimates climbed, and climbed, and climbed.

Katz went through an entire election campaign feigning ignorance about the true cost of the stadium. His opponent declared openly she would give the project a blank cheque. She, at least, was honest. Katz dishonestly claimed he was waiting for his partner David Asper to tell him if the price for a new stadium had gone up.

When the president of Asper's construction company, Creswin, complained to the Winnipeg Free Press about The Black Rod's stadium tenders story, Selinger and Asper knew it was empty bluster, but they said nothing.

"For 10 days now, we have been fighting untrue, inflammatory numbers on stadium costs that are clearly being floated to media outlets in order to make mischief on the project. This conduct and inability to keep confidences while we work through the complex tendering process is both highly unprofessional and disturbing," wrote Creswin President Dan Edwards in an email to the Free Press. (Muddy pit becoming money pit, Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press, Oct. 20, 2010).

Selinger, the dirtiest politician in Manitoba, was asked every day in the Legislature about the stadium deal, and every day he showed his contempt for the public by refusing to answer, choosing instead to throw insults at the Opposition for asking the questions.

Only after the Legislature ended its session and he couldn't be held to account in Question Period did Selinger leap to the microphones to announce a new stadium deal.

Sam Katz, for his part, withheld the details of the deal from city councillors until the eleventh hour, then announced they simply had to vote in favour or the deal would be scuttled.

He said Tuesday that tender prices were guaranteed only until Nov. 30th but that the contractors agreed on a 15 day extension.

So Selinger and Katz knew before Nov. 30 that the stadium would cost $190 million, but withheld that information for at least another two weeks to create a phony "deadline" to whipsaw city council support.

You wouldn't buy a used car from this man under these circumstances, yet city councillors are poised to commit tens of millions of dollars on his say-so.

Remember that Katz also wholeheartedly endorsed the previous deal with David Asper --- which collapsed into rubble in less than 8 months.

Katz has begun the hype campaign to convince the public its getting a great deal.

Wow, a new stadium for only $12 million (the city's cost), he declares.
Another lie.

The province will be sucking up all the property taxes from the old stadium site for the foreseeable future until it's recovered $75 million of the cost of the new stadium.

If half the taxes are municipal property taxes and half provincial education taxes, then the city is losing at least $37.5 million in taxes. On top of the $12 million in costs.

Got that? The City of Winnipeg is going to wind up paying $50 million toward the stadium.

And who's paying the interest on the $75 million? For that matter, who's paying the interest on the $190 million? It works out to about $10 million a year.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are supposed to be repaying an $85 million loan from the province. Oh yeah?

- The interest on $85 million is at least $4.2 million a year.

Let's see, naming rights, $150,000; ticket surcharge, $500,000; entertainment tax, $800,000, for a grand total of $1.4 million.

- So each year the Bombers will go $2.8 million further in the hole while "repaying" the loan.

We should sell raffle ticket on how many years before the city of Winnipeg is called on to bail out the Blue Bombers again.

How is Greg Selinger going to account for borrowing another $190 million next year? Will it be layered on top of the $500 million deficit already predicted? Will the provincial deficit be $690 millon next year or will he try to disguise it with some NDP Enron accounting?

Katz was asked on CJOB if he would table the entire new stadium deal Wednesday at city council's last regular meeting. Listen to OB's Audio Vault, 9-9:30 to hear how he shucks and jives around the question.

He will table the city's portion of the deal, he finally acknowledged, leaving only the province's, university's and football team's portions secret.

Why is anything secret? There's no private partner to be affected by the release of the facts.

Katz said David Asper is getting paid $4 million for his work on the stadium. What a deal, said the mayor; Asper wanted $6.4 million.

Does that mean Asper wanted to make a 50 percent profit on the deal? Or that he's walking away from $2.4 million?

Is Asper getting $4 million on top of millions paid to Creswin for its work on the untendered contract to build the stadium?

For every question answered, two more arise. But the biggest question is not being asked.

Why are Selinger and Katz so desperate to seal the deal without any scrutiny.

Why did they do everything possible to hide the details as long as possible.

Why are they still lying about the cost of the stadium?

What are they hiding?

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